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The importance of letting go

This week’s blog is centered around the theme of letting go… But I don’t mean this in a generic, superficial way. More in the ‘let go of whatever expectations and/or rules you made for yourself in whatever aspect of change you’re working on and just allow shit to happen sometimes’, kind of letting go.

Let’s be clear, change is good. It’s the only constant in life. Working on yourself and changing for the better is amazing, messy, difficult work and it takes time. Sometimes, it takes years to change certain habits and then you find yourself working on some other aspect of yourself.

What I want to talk to you about today is forgiving little things that aren’t perfect, that don’t go completely according to plan, and allowing yourself to just exist in the moment.

This last week was tough for me in a few ways. It was a week of frustration at work, not eating super well, exhaustion and emotion. I had a few lessons in seeing things not go according to plan and having to breathe through it, relax about whatever outcomes we expected, and go with the flow. I also had a few lessons in self love and forgiveness, really centered around eating things I had previously been cutting out of my diet. And you know what? ITS OK!

What are we making all these plans for? Why do things have to be a specific way? Why do we try to control all these things in our lives? I can understand control on a certain level, but we can’t control the actions of others. Sometimes, we can’t control how certain things turn out. BUT we can control our reactions to things in the moment.

Like Elsa says “let it go”

[Frozen is a registered trademark thingy of Disney]

For example: we recently experienced a death in the family and my mother in law & I were at the store picking up the trays of food she ordered for the memorial service. She got a call at 7am that morning telling her everything was ready to go. We showed up a little after 9 and discovered the staff frantically putting our order together. When we got to the counter, we were told that they didn’t realize there was a second page to the order and it would take another 30 minutes or so to complete our order.

We had a few options as far as how we could react: get pissed off, cause a scene and start yelling at everyone (we were picking up food for a memorial after all, so emotions were all over the place), or we could give them some grace. So, we took a few deep breaths and decided to walk around the store while we wait for the other trays to be completed and take advantage of being at a store where we could pick up some random things we needed. It was an inconvenient situation, but instead of being angry or upset, we let it go.

Here’s another example: After getting the flu in December, I’ve been eating spectacularly well (especially for me!). I’ve stopped drinking coffee, pretty much given up refined sugar, and have been eating a mostly vegan diet. But this week, I faltered. I consumed more alcohol, cheese and sugar than I planned for, and went over my calorie intake a few times. Even though I was feeling bad about slipping, I made the choice to let it go. Shit happens. Life happens. People get busy. Sometimes you don’t plan for every situation and you have to improvise.

But it’s ok! It’s ok because I can choose to do better tomorrow (and continue to choose better at every decision). And if I don’t do better, I can choose forgiveness for myself and give myself some effing grace. In my experience you can’t be perfect all the time (but perfection is a myth anyway so really you can’t be perfect ever) and being a control freak isn’t serving anyone.

Perfectionism only adds stress to your life. And stress can cause ALL KINDS of negative reactions within your physical body: headaches & migraines, ulcers, digestive issues, weight gain, weight loss, sleep deprivation, etc. We have enough going on in our lives that cause us stress, so why would we want to add to it? Especially when we have a choice to let it go!

So the next time something trivial happens that doesn’t go according to plan, I truly encourage you to let it go. Take a few deep breaths, understand that things happen and the world isn’t out to get you, and let it go.

And in case you’re like me, and you want actual ideas on how to “let it go”, here are a few ideas:

Breathing deeply – I mentioned taking deep breaths and there are a few reasons this is effective: sometimes we don’t realize we’re holding our breath, and intentionally breathing can improve our mood, initiate a relaxing response, as well as all the benefits of bringing more oxygen into our bodies. It also allows us to take a pause, which can help us move past our initial reactions of anger or frustration when things get bumpy; and then we can choose a less impulsive or reactionary response to the situation.

Walking away – Let’s say you’re attempting to make vegan cinnamon rolls for the first time ever and the directions don’t mention that you have to activate the yeast. Since you’re not an experienced baker this isn’t something you know to do, and so when your dough doesn’t rise after an hour of waiting, you’re feeling frustrated. A way to initiate the letting go process could be to take a break and walk away. If you walk away and actually go for a walk, you give your mind a chance to reset itself. But a walk is not completely necessary. Just by getting into some other activity, you can let the failure of your broken dough go into the ether.

Getting active – Let’s say the stress inducing situation brought on some real-as-eff anger and you’re ready to explode on someone who probably doesn’t deserve your wrath. In this case, doing something active will not only bring on some happy ass endorphins (hello good mood!), it will also reset the brain in a way similar to meditation. If you’re not teeming with anger, some light activity can be beneficial as well. For example, stomping your feet will not only feel good, it will also activate your root chakra which will help you feel more grounded & logical.

Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes – Let’s say you were the one that got a call that said your food order was ready, but when you showed up, you were told it wasn’t and you had to wait another 30 minutes. Instead of ‘shooting the messenger’, try walking a mile in their shoes. First, they’re working diligently to correct the delay by having several staff members help to get your order together. Think about what their morning must’ve looked like, if they missed an entire page of your order. Perhaps something happened in their personal lives that kept them from getting a full night’s sleep. Maybe they’ve never had to put an order this large together and weren’t prepared to look at the back side of the print out. Maybe there was some miscommunication within their own team and that caused some confusion. Whatever it could be, when you put yourself in their shoes, you can allow yourself to give them some patience and forgiveness. You can also begin to understand that they weren’t purposely trying to ruin your day and you can wait a little bit longer.

I hope you find this blog helpful and I’d love to hear if you have any examples of letting shit go.

~Sending you all the love!

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